Onondaga Nation, NY- The Onondaga Nation proudly announces the opening of a new Language Center. The language center named Ne’ Eñhadiweñnayeñde’nha’ (They will get to know the language) is a great step in the effort to promote leaning of the Onondaga language.
The center grew out of the need to find a formal place for people on the nation to have access to resources and classes. Previously, language classes were taught in individual’s homes by elders or members of the language department. As more and more people began taking opportunities to learn Onondaga, classes were held in small rooms shared with other nation offices.
“It is great to provide the needed space for our Onondaga Language program”, said Chief Sid Hill. “It shows the community how important our language is to us. We want to provide a place where all people can practice speaking Onondaga. From the early learners to our advanced speakers, it will be a great place to learn.”
For a long time speaking Onondaga was the language of choice. When the school opened in 1850, children speaking the Onondaga language was discouraged and even punished in the school. Soon more and more young people’s first language choice gradually turned to English.
Then in the mid 1970’s the Onondaga Council and the people demanded change in the school. The change came. Onondaga language classes began for all of the students ay the Onondaga Nation School and continue on today for the Nation youth.
“We see Ne’ Eñhadiweñnayeñde’nha’ as a great tool to expand learning opportunities past the Nation School”, said Chief Jake Edwards. “More and more of our young and young at heart want to learn more and this will be a great place for them to do so.”
Chief Edwards continues, “With Ohahiyoh (the Onondaga language pre-school) and now Ne’ Eñhadiweñnayeñde’nha’, we hope to have more and more people speaking our language. It is good to hear.”